Things That Matter

This Man Graduated From College At 58 Years Old After Working As A Farmworker Who Immigrated From Mexico

During this graduation season, we love to hear about first-time college graduates, especially from those who are children of immigrants. It’s so inspiring to read how so many of these people worked hard to make their parents proud, especially because they worked even harder to give their children a better life. In very few cases, it’s not just their children who are graduating but the parents themselves.

Fifty-eight-year-old Adolfo González, a farmworker who used to pick celery, earned his bachelor’s degree from the California State University, Monterey Bay.

Twitter/@ThinkMexican

González, an indigenous immigrant from Mexico, worked in agriculture for years in Salinas Valley, California but always dreamed about going back to school. According to The Californian, González went back to nigh school to learn English. But even while continuing his studies, he never forgot his roots.

“I think it’s very important to learn our indigenous language because it’s part of our culture,” he told the publication. “It’s part of our identity.”

González graduated early and with honors a year after his daughter got her college degree as well.

Twitter/@TUSK81

“The most important thing for me is not what I’m doing now,” he told the publication. “The most important thing to me is to inspire people to do the same thing I did, because, como dijo Cesar Chavez, ‘Si se puede.'”

His journey and story to get to that stage are inspiring everyone who is reading about him on social media.

The “Si Se Puede” motto can take us all the way to the top. Not only does it inspire us to reach for the best that we can be, it also reminds us of how far we’ve come.

His story is proof that determination is the most important part of anyone’s journey.

“I took the decision to come to the United States like everybody does, because it’s the only way we can support our family,” he said. “I always promised to my mom ‘I will buy you a house,’ and I did it.”

He pursued an education so that he could continue to help his community.

Who wouldn’t want someone this passionate as their teacher? He is going to change the lives and thoughts of so many people. He is the kind of people we need to become educators to spark that love of education in others.

Big congratulations to Adolfo and his unending determination to become the best version of himself that he could be.

He will be like another Mr. Escalante. At least we can all hope that he will be the next big teacher to change lives one class at a time.

Congratulations, Adolfo González.

Share your touching graduation stories with us on social media using #MituGraduate.

READ: She Dropped Out Of High School When She Got Pregnant And Her Farm Working Parents Gave Her All The Advice She Needed To Get A Master’s

This Study Just Identified The Most Migrant-Friendly Cities In The US And The List Might Surprise You

Things That Matter

This Study Just Identified The Most Migrant-Friendly Cities In The US And The List Might Surprise You

One of the biggest misconceptions that the world has about the United States and its approach to migration, particularly during the Trump administration, is that immigrants are facing rejection everywhere. It is important to explain, however, that federal policies for which the White House and State Departments are responsible sometimes run contrary to what states and even city officials do. 

That is the case of immigrant policies: states like California, for example, have often disagreed with federal authorities in issues such as sanctuary cities. In turn, cities like Chicago, for example, boost and celebrate migration and the multicultural prism that it generates, and run programs that attempt to make new arrivals feel welcome and become a part of the wider community. 

A new study has revealed which cities are most welcoming for migrants, fostering their incorporation into the wider community and encouraging diversity and cultural exchange.

Credit: New American Economy

The study was conducted by New American Economy, a bipartisan research group that is doing work on Immigration Reform. This is the second annual city-index. New American Economy was established by very wealthy corporate executives and mayors including Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch. The group’s webpage states its aim: “fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans”.

The group conducts high-end research and they have found that migrants are very important to the economy (duh! did you need all that research to find that out?).

In their first report they found out that “more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children – a key takeaway that has shifted perspectives and laid the foundation for better conversations about the role of immigrants in our economy and society”. Yessir! The study took into account cities that met these criteria: “Total population is more than 200,000 people. Foreign-born population is more than 10,000 people. The share of total population that is foreign-born is more than 3.6 percent”. 

Chicago reigns supreme! The jewel of the Midwest.

Credit: Crain’s Chicago Business

As a region, the Midwest was the most accomodating site for new arrivals. So why was Chicago ranked on top? Because it provides a better environment for social, political and economic integration. The city’s mayor Lori Lightfoot was, of course, superhappy, and said in a statement: “We are tremendously proud Chicago has been named the most welcoming city in America for immigrants and refugees. This ranking reflects the passionate and dedicated work of countless public officials and community members across our city who have come together to stand up and fight for the rights of our immigrant and refugee communities, no matter the cost”. Preach!

Let’s not forget that Chicago’s history is full of migratory waves from Greece, Poland, Mexico, Italy… basically people from all over the world have contributed to the economic and social fabric of the city. 

Second place, Chula Vista, California… and the state as a whole is pretty well ranked.

Credit: Port Of San Diego

It is interesting how the border state of California has a total of four cities in the top 10. Common sense could dictate that the states closer to the border would face more challenges when it comes to migration, but the study reveals that California is using its history to develop better programs for integration. The state is in a key geopolitical position: bordering Mexico and the conflicted entry point of Tijuana, but also with a shore in the Pacific Ocean which encourages ties with Asia and Oceania.  Chula Vista got perfect scores for Economic Empowerment, Community, and Inclusivity. Well done! 

A very honorable third spot: Jersey City.

Credit: Jersey Digs

Jersey is sometimes seen as secondary to New York City, but it is the third place, a great win in itself. According to the report: “The city earns high marks for Government Leadership, Inclusivity, and Community, among others. Economic Empowerment and Civic Participation are two areas where the city could improve”. 

4th… San Francisco, California, the entryway for many Asian migrants.

Credit: AARP

San Francisco’s history is tightly linked to migration. This city has attracted multiple groups since the Gold Rush, up to the dotcom era when many young professionals arrived in the city looking for that big breakthrough. According to the report, the city scores great in most areas but is expensive: “The city boasts impressive marks across the board in all policy categories. There is room to improve when it comes to Livability, which takes into things such as cost of living and educational attainment levels”.

Yes, the city is very expensive for anyone… one of the most costly in the world. But those views, though!

The House Just Introduced A Bipartisan Plan To Help Undocumented Farmworkers But Will The White House Support It?

Things That Matter

The House Just Introduced A Bipartisan Plan To Help Undocumented Farmworkers But Will The White House Support It?

Gus Ruelas / AP

The United States’ agricultural business is largely ran on the back of undocumented foreign labor. In fact, more than 50% of those employed in agriculture are undocumented. That means there are more than a million people living in the shadows but who a vital part of delivering food to American households.

Not only do they live in the shadows for fear of deportation but many are even too afraid to access much needed healthcare or to speak out against employee abuse.

To help address these very real concerns, a bipartisan group of lawmakers have been quietly working out the details of a bill that could help.

The bipartisan bill was announced on Wednesday and may actually have a chance at being passed.

Lawmakers have struck a deal that would give legal status to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrant farmworkers in exchange for stronger employee verification in the agricultural sector.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, who chairs the immigration subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, led negotiations on the deal with Republican Reps. Doug LaMalfa of Richvale (Butte County) and Dan Newhouse of Washington state.

“The men and women who work America’s farms feed the nation. But, farmworkers across the country are living and working with uncertainty and fear, contributing to the destabilization of farms across the nation,” Lofgren said in a statement. “Our bill offers stability for American farms.”

If it passes the House, the bill still faces an uncertain future in the Senate. It’s also unclear whether President Trump will back it.

However, the bill would face a more uncertain fate in the Republican-controlled Senate.

If 20 Republicans are willing to put their names on the effort, it could show the reach of interest from the GOP side of the aisle to address a very specific portion of the immigrant workforce that is crucial to many of their districts’ economies.

In addition to Diaz-Balart’s participation in negotiations, another Republican at the table has been Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington, according to two congressional sources.

The bill could offer hope to more than a million people across the US.

Hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers already in California could be eligible to get on a path to citizenship if the bill becomes law, and employers would be able to take advantage of the reformed visa process to hire new foreign workers legally.

If the bill can pass the House, one supporter in the Senate will be California Democrat Dianne Feinstein. She said in a statement provided to The Chronicle that she will work to try to pass the legislation in the upper chamber.

“Our broken immigration system has created shortages of farm labor across California and the rest of our country,” Feinstein said. “This bipartisan bill will fix that and bring farmworkers out of the shadows. It’s time we give farmers the help they need while protecting the hardworking people who put food on our tables.”

United Farm Workers, the union that represents agricultural workers, has come out in support of the bill.

According to a summary of the bill obtained by McClatchy, the so-called Farm Workforce Modernization Act would provide a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants who have already been working in the farm and agriculture industry for at least two years and plan to continue in this sector. 

It would make changes to the H2-A visa program, which farmers use to hire foreign nationals for seasonal agriculture work, to make it easier for employers to fill crucial workforce gaps while providing more protections for the workers themselves.

And as a sweetener for immigration hardliners, the measure would make E-Verify — the web-based system that allows businesses to confirm whether their employees are eligible to work in the United States — mandatory for the agriculture sector.

However, because of the expansion of the E-Verify system not everyone is on-board with the legislation.

“We are opposed to E-Verify in principle but as part of a compromise for legalization and more workers, it’d be a sacrifice worth making,” said Cato policy analyst David Bier. Bier said he had heard that “a bipartisan group is close to a deal” on the proposal.

Some farmworker advocates are lobbying to grant farmworkers legal status without requiring future E-Verify checks, while some Republicans want mandatory E-Verify use without granting legal status to any current workers.

A position paper from the Farm Bureau last year said the group would consider mandatory E-Verify in exchange for granting legal status to current workers and a better guest-worker visa program.